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The five building blocks of an exceptional retail experience
Today’s consumers are savvy and very clued-in. They are looking for good service, relevance, and a quality product- ultimately leading to an exceptional retail experience – without these, they will move on and shop elsewhere. In the current retail environment, these are invaluable and the route to repeat business and loyalty.
So what are the five building blocks of an exceptional retail experience?
1. Mining your data to develop greater understanding
Shopper data, generated from both in-store and e-commerce transactions, other online activity, geolocation, etc. holds the key to an effective and sustainable customer-centric approach. With the convergence of the digital and physical worlds, an increasing number of new information sources is being generated. This offers the retail industry a tremendous opportunity to better understand customers, create more relevant shopping experiences, and drive sales growth. Knowledge of the what, why and how people buy, what influences their shopping behavior, and what earns their loyalty to drive their engagement with a brand facilitates the development of effective strategies for both merchandising decisions and communication to the shopper.
2. Personalizing the experience and balancing your campaigns
Shoppers are increasingly responding to more relevant and tailored messaging, but personalized, highly targeted communication is often perceived as small scale and overlooked in favor of mass promotion. Although seemingly contradictory, personalization does not limit the size and impact of promotion but can be applied on a massive level to complement, and coexist with, more general offers.
Customer insights are just as valuable in mass marketing as they are in personalized targeting. The first step is to assess performance by understanding how people react to different approaches: some may never respond to offers; others do, but for which items and what is the purchasing pattern? Understanding these reactions allows for the possibility of predicting the best combination and number of offers to distribute over time, allowing mass campaigns to more efficiently fulfill their key role of driving traffic and attracting new customers.
To create the best possible mix and the right balance, targeted and mass promotions should be measured and prioritized together to ensure each generates the strongest impact and highest customer satisfaction levels.
3. Innovating and creating a cohesive, omni-channel approach
Technology and digitization are triggering a radical transformation in how retailers interact with customers. They enable the mining of vast volumes of data to support daily decisions and have led to the introduction of ingenious new media channels. Automatic ordering and virtual shopping trips are becoming a reality and there are many other new ways retailers and their suppliers can interact with customers directly on a personal level.
To ensure seamless, omni-channel co-ordination, print, email, web and mobile all have to be planned and tied in a way which supports a connected shopping experience. Inconsistent communications can be irritating for the customer, damaging to sales, and a lack of integration can lead to contradictory and/or duplicated messages.
The data will indicate the channel(s) that provides the best chance(s) to influence purchasing behaviors, and to offer a streamlined and effortless experience. However they shop, people want technology to make their lives easier and are likely to welcome highly relevant and helpful communications.
4. Cooperating internally and externally
This fast changing environment demands cooperation, while much has been said about the value of retailer/supplier collaboration, the principle of cooperation is equally applicable to internal departments. For example, many organizations split marketing according to different channels instead of looking at the consumer landscape as one related network. Working centrally from the same data and insights reinforces a customer-centric culture - producing a much stronger, more cohesive focus on the customer journey and experience across all touch points.
Cooperation between retailer and supplier has been proven to offer mutual benefits including better efficiency, cost cutting, and exceeding customer expectations. Complementary skills and knowledge that supports category growth, positively impacts promotional planning and merchandising, and creates a collaborative relationship is crucial in terms of shopper satisfaction.
5. Testing, learning and moving on
The consumer is moving faster than ever and there is no longer time for lengthy, drawn out implementations. Try out new ideas, test them on control groups, and learn quickly from both the successes and the failures. Develop what works and rethink what doesn’t work. Test. Learn. Move on.
Lastly, remaining relevant has always been important. In today’s world, with more brick-and-mortar and online shopping options than ever before, the rise of the consumer who has become accustomed to a curated and personalized experience, and the technology-fueled ability to know just about anything at any time, the need to be relevant has possibly never been more critical than today. The good news is that the data and the tools also exist today to guide retailers toward creating the type of exceptional retail experiences that will keep the most important customers coming back for more.